Lawmakers set sights on business property tax
As in past years, a new session of the Colorado General Assembly means renewed efforts to eliminate the business personal property tax.
Leaders from both parties are saying the tax, which businesses pay on all personal property, needs to be eliminated if Colorado is to attract new businesses.
But the elimination of the bill would be devastating for some rural governments. Moffat County depends on business personal property tax for 48 percent of its property tax revenue, placing the county second in the state for dependence on the tax. Routt County receives 24 percent of its property tax from business personal property tax.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mark Hillman described the business personal tax as a “nonsensical tax” during a speech in Denver several weeks ago. The tax is something the legislature will have to address, he said.
Hillman’s is a sentiment that has bipartisan support.
“I think business personal property tax is a very silly tax and it probably shouldn’t be on the books,” House Speaker Andrew Romanoff said at the same meeting.
Over time, Romanoff said, it might be possible to reduce or eliminate the tax. But he wasn’t sure it should be eliminated this year.
Last year, Rep. Bruce Cairns introduced legislation that would have phased out the tax during the next 15 years. His bill, which never made it out of the House, didn’t offer a solution for local governments dependent on the tax.
Hillman suggested local governments should find their own solutions.
“I’m very willing to say that after the phase-out is complete, local governments can collect the tax at a local level,” he said.
That would require voters to approve the tax collection through a ballot initiative.
Sen. Jack Taylor said he doesn’t necessarily oppose eliminating the tax. However, if he were to vote for such a bill, it would have to include language to help local governments cope with the elimination of the tax, he said.
For instance, if the state found a way to backfill the revenue counties would lose, Taylor said he might vote to end the tax. But because the state is faced with millions of dollars in budget cuts during the next year, there is no money to backfill lost revenue.
“If they just want to get rid of it, you’re darn right I’ll fight it,” Taylor said.
“They love to talk about cutting it but they don’t talk about the pit it leaves for counties.”
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Next week, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Moffat County are hosting a free day-long seminar for local ranchers and agriculture producers.